Event Planning

Event day survival kit

 

 

Decormergency-kit-600x489

Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

So your big event day is looming on the horizon. The sense of excitement and suspense overwhelm you. All of your hard work is reaching a culmination! What’s going to happen? Will people like it? What if it’s a total flop?! Never fear, if you are prepared and organized, your day will be a success! To ease some of those "day of" jitters, make sure your “Event Survival Kit” is packed the night before. Here are a few items to take with you come event day that will ensure the event runs smoothly.

TOOL BOX: Every good event planner has a bag of tricks that lives in the back of their car and is present at every event. These boxes might include: tape (of all kinds), scissors, votives, lighter, Tide stick, walkie-talkies, Sharpies, string/twine/fishing line, batteries, checkbook, safety pins, glue, tape measure, zip ties, phone charger … and the list goes on. This is always a box-in-progress where different items make their way in and out, depending on the event type and scope. The key to success when packing your box is to choose versatile and functional pieces that can jump in when something logistical goes awry. 

VENDOR DETAIL & CONTACT LIST: You should always keep an organized list of all event vendors. This list should include the company name, what they are doing for the event, contact person’s name and phone number, and when they will be on and off venue site. Make several copies of this list and distribute it to all those involved with the event planning and management. If possible, a pre-event meeting with all of your major event vendors should be held to ensure everyone is on the same page. The clearer the lines of communications between all parties, the smoother the event will run.

DETAILED TIMELINE & SCHEDULE KEEPER: Your event should always have a schedule (broken out by minute) that details the sequence of events. Your schedule will start with the setup of the event and will end with the breakdown. The success of this tool rests largely on the diligence of the person who keeps it. Always have a designated event scheduler, who intimately understands and adheres to said schedule. This document should also be distributed to the entire event planning and management team.

What are some of your Event Survival Tools? The folks at Blink Events would love to know!

 

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net.

Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

Who is overseeing your events?

 

 

Eventmanage

 

Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

If you are an organization who has ever put on an event, I am sure you have run into some unforeseen details that nobody had on their radar. The result is an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dry throat and the urge to run as fast as you can out of the building and into a dark cool place. Enter your event manager. This is your designated event boss, who ultimately makes everything go. Having a designated boss will ensure a successful event and spare you the heart palpitations that send you into a frenzy.

So who is the best person for the job? If you can’t quite pick him/her out, here are some qualities your event manager should most definitely possess:

Keen eye for detail: These people see everything coming and have the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes one. Yes, at times they can also be “Debbie Downers” who will discourage you from things strictly based on logistics, but their intentions are pure, having only the event’s best outcome on their mind.

Organizationally proficient: These people know where every correspondence between everyone ever is located and can recall details of the event quickly and confidently. This person will be your MVP when it comes to event day.

Nit-Picky: This may sound like a negative trait (and it can be in the right context), but when it comes to your event, you need a person who is not afraid to let someone know exactly what needs to be done and when (in the most charming way possible, naturally). After all, this event is a reflection of you and should be nothing less than spectacular!

Problem solvers: Every event comes with its 11th-hour hiccups; the key is to be prepared! These people possess survival skills and are able to act quickly using the resources at their exposure. In fact, these people are such good Houdinis that you never even noticed there was a problem.

Execution experts: These people not only talk a good game, they also possess a good game. They have follow-through and have been known to produce really quality work. Their main goal is to make you look good.

Find your event guru, whether he/she is in or outside of your office. Choose wisely, because the better the guru, the better the event turnout.

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net.

Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.

Why a successful event is like a perfect meatball

 

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Being somewhat of a meatball connoisseur, I find it hard to eat a meatball without judging it on its texture and flavor before deciding whether it’s good or bad. Each component must be complementary of the next in order to achieve complete harmony. The same can be said about a well-executed event.

Who has ever been to an event and noticed the flaws? Perhaps a glitch in the sound during a keynote speaker or connection problems with the video?

How about when the food or service just isn’t good? Or when the decor is just ugly! Why is it we always remember when something goes wrong? Here are five ways to make sure your event isn’t a mushy meatball:

KNOW YOUR CLEAR EVENT OBJECTIVES:

I have stressed this before but will do so again: It is imperative to have clear event objectives prior to any concrete planning. Start at the drawing board and return there if necessary at different stages in the process. Create an event “tagline” that sums up those objectives and always go back to that tagline when you are at a standstill in your process. Maintaining clear sight lines on your event objectives will contribute to a cohesive and well-received event.

HIRE AN EVENT PLANNER (shameless plug):

There are many reasons to hire a planner, but one of the most valuable is that they are experts. Not only do they possess the efficiency and know-how to plan an event from start to finish, they also possess vision, which could be more important than the actual skill of planning.

An event planner can serve as a creative partner to help you to think outside the box to create the “wow.” Interview a few planners before you hire one to make sure you have a good cosmic connection. Take them to dinner, buy them expensive wine to ensure you are a good fit for each other. ... Just kidding about the dinner. But really, you should feel totally confident in your planner’s abilities prior to hiring them.

HIRE AN A/V PROFESSIONAL:

Let’s be real, whose TV has ever said “no signal” and you thought to yourself, “There is no way I am ever going to figure this out; I should probably just go read a book?” If you are like me, I just simply cannot figure out (or want to figure out) how to trouble shoot electronics. That is why I always, always always hire an A/V Expert.

Not only are they able to quickly and effectively troubleshoot anything that may go awry, they will make sure no one ever notices there was a problem in the first place. More importantly, like your event planner, they have vision. Lean on them to execute your vision. Allow this creative partner the freedom to offer exciting suggestions on how to achieve a full, visually engaging experience.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE MATTER TOO!

Be smart in your choices; don’t just choose the cheapest options. Rely on your caterers to give suggestions and insight into menu size and options. But also have a vision strategy of your own that ties in to the event themes and objectives. Also, remember this is a health-conscious society, so be sensitive to a menu that can appeal to all attendees. Replace heavier starches and fats with lean carbohydrates and proteins to help sustain attendee engagement and protect the waistline.

WHAT IS YOUR EVENT’S FLOW STRATEGY?

Know your venue space and design the event flow thoughtfully and purposefully. When I say event flow, I am talking not only about the scheduling of the production itself, but also about the physical and visual flow through space.

Design a flow from the eyes of the attendee and guide their movement through space. Your flow strategy should be determined from your event objectives. If your event deems itself to be a little more structured or conservative, maybe you will want to guide your attendees in a specific way through space and program. Likewise, if your event is more casual, maybe your attendees are allowed the opportunity to wander the space and casually take everything in.

Make sure you are delivering the same messaging in a number of different ways so to increase the probability of retention. Also, get butts out of seats at least every 45 minutes to an hour to keep the blood and oxygen flowing through the room!

In conclusion, gather creative and capable experts who can work together seamlessly to create a harmonious event. Reconsider the “one-stop-shop” mentality for convenience' sake and seize the opportunity to shine by investing just a little bit more into your event.

Don’t get caught making bad meatballs!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net.

Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

5 ways to step up your corporate event game

 

'I throw lots of parties... But I insist on only serving canned pumpkin and crystal clear cola.'

 - Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Sure, a bunch of pop, water and beer in a cooler is an easy way to serve your attendees drinks, and in some cases this tactic is totally appropriate. However, there are other times where your attendees deserve a little bit more pampering. By investing a little bit more thought and moolah into your events, you will boost the quality of the experience you are creating for your attendees -- and they will notice and appreciate you for it. Here are five ways you can step up your corporate event game in a positive way.

1. Consider room layout and convenience for attendees.

Before you lay out your furniture, do a walk-through of the event space yourself. Start at the main entry and enter the space as if you were an attendee. Make sure the course of travel is clear and free of obstruction. Look for anything that might be confusing for attendees, making them feel awkward. Make your attendees feel welcome by stationing a greeter at the door. Beware of the possibility of traffic jams that may occur in the space. Place your food and beverage locations where they will not inhibit general flow of travel. Make sure restrooms are clearly marked and are made discreet so your attendees feel comfortable going in and out. Space planning should be a part of your initial event strategy (not an afterthought), so take care during the planning and develop a design that functions well.

2. Be conscious of food and beverage choices.

Be thoughtful about not only what you are serving your guests, but how you are serving them. As part of a health-conscious society, planners should be sensitive when creating event menus. It is important to choose items that are rich in proteins and complex carbs, while avoiding foods that are high in fats that leave your guests feeling bloated and lethargic. Choosing smart food options will boost your attendees' energy and attention span. These wise choices show your attendees that you promote healthy living, and that makes you look cool. Avoid foods that are messy to eat, for obvious reasons. If doing appetizers, make sure they are compact and bite-sized. If the food requires utensils, make sure you provide ample options for attendees to perch at tables to eat. It’s REALLY hard to cut something while holding a plate and a drink, so think about that. Paying for a bartender sometimes just makes sense. You can hire companies that will provide the bar and all its fixings for relatively cheap. They come with insurance and smiling faces and will set up and break down their bar without you having to lift a finger. You buy the booze, they bring the rest; no mess, no stress.

3. Create continuity in event design.

Determine what it is that you wish to gain by holding your event, and use those objectives to guide the course of your event. Deliver clear and consistent messaging across all elements of your design so your message is received by your attendees. This means from your initial invitation to your check-in process, to the food you provide, to your centerpieces, to the parting gift -- every element of your event should relate to the other elements. By developing some sort of underlying theme, it makes it easy to make choices on the different components of your event. If you are throwing a party to promote an expensive jewelry line, every element of your event design should speak to and demonstrate the concept of that jewelry line. Event planners are really good at creating continuity in event design. So if you feel lost in this area, find a qualified and stellar planner to assist in this creative process (wink, wink).

4.  Dress her up!

Add some flowers, drapes, interesting graphics … something that adds some interest to the space. Yeah, no one will really care if you don’t dress up the space, but if done well, people will notice if you do. Remember, this is your opportunity to create a positive experience for your attendees. Make them feel like you knew they were coming and prepared for their arrival. Don’t make your event seem like a frazzled afterthought; that will be noticed too.

5.  Give a little bit.

A thoughtful favor is always advised. Use this as an opportunity to leave a lasting impression and further hammer home your message. Be unique and impactful; avoid giving away junk. We all have a million coozies, pens and water bottles, so think outside the box. Creating a well-packaged and useful favor can really go a long way in differentiating your brand.

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

Re-thinking the “gala” as your signature event

 

Gala-Circle_2015_FNL_lg

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

At some point in time, the expectation was set that a “signature event” should take the form of a gala.

THE GALA APPROACH:  An attendee can purchase tickets and expect a combination silent/live auction accompanied by sometimes sub-par finger foods, an open bar and perhaps (if you’re lucky), some live music. As an attendee you are expected to dress to the nines and compliantly open your checkbook when that point in the night arrives.

Let me be clear,some organizations execute stellar galas with extraordinary attention to detail and quality food, beverage and entertainment choices. For them, this is a sustainable signature event model that need not be messed with. However many others are left wondering, “What are we doing wrong?”

As humans we tire of monotony and predictability. We crave variety and the thought of attending another expected formal event can be downright tedious. So if not a gala, then what?

Building a successful, sustainable signature event model takes more than just coordination; it takes creativity and strategic thinking. The planning of the event is the EASY part, it is in the many invested hours that precede the planning where the magic is made.

So, what happens during those hours?

  1. Rediscovering what makes YOU unique? Analyze your mission and draw from it. You are not generic, so why should your event be?  Outline 4-5 buzz words that encompass who you are as an organization and really dive deep into the meaning of each of those words.  Think critically about how you can personify those words at your event.  Post these words in a prominent location and don’t lose sight of them throughout the whole planning process.  If every choice you make about your event does not reinforce these words, you are making the wrong choices. 
  2. What are you trying to achieve at your event? What are your event objectives, not just for the first year but over time? Keep in mind, you may not achieve your grandest goals in the first year, but the idea is to set the wheels in motion for growth, year after year.  Write a brief but specific five-year plan for your event.  Start at the five-year mark and work your way backwards. Your signature event should be seen as an investment that will bring you quantifiable returns. You will not see the return you are hoping for without thoughtfully planned and implemented strategies that lay out how you will reach your intended event benchmarks year after year.
  3. Creating a relevant event identity: After you have successfully identified WHO you are, WHY it is important for attendees to know this and WHERE you want the event to be in five years, use this information to create a strong and relevant identity for the event. Create a very succinct and clear messaging strategy that you can communicate to your attendees. This identity should be impactful, creative and possess the ability to evolve over time.  No two events should ever be the same but they should have common objectives and underlying messaging. 
  4. Attendee engagement: Develop a relevant theme by which to make all your tangible event decisions. Thoughtfully developed, unique and impactful experiences will be the most effective way to reach your attendees on a deeper level. By injecting different elements of surprise, you will keep your attendees present and resisting distraction. Engage all five senses of their senses to make your event memorable.  Remember, no detail is too minute, so every consideration should be handled with care.  Resist the urge to skimp just to save a few bucks.
  5. Reviewing your ROI: When your event concludes and while it is fresh in your mind, review it against a set of pre-determined criteria. Make sure you are asking attendees for honest feedback. Let them in on the fact that you are trying to build the best event possible for them and welcome even their harshest reviews. Develop a system to track your ROI throughout the course of the year as it relates to your event. Take your findings and compare them to your predicted first-year projection plan; analyze what worked and where you fell short. Use this information to revise your plan for the following year. 

The take-away here is that a generic event will bring about generic results. If you creatively and strategically personalize your event to share about you and your mission, your ROI will increase exponentially. By combining clear messaging, a strong event identity and innovative engagement tactics you will be able to reach your attendees on a personal level. Now, get out there and razzle dazzle ‘em!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

LOCAL FEATURE: Proof, not just a restaurant

D60_1366

 

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC. 

COOL VENUE ALERT!  First, if you haven’t been to Proof yet, you need to get there! Proof, located at 1301 Locust St. in downtown Des Moines, is a restaurant that prides itself on delivering “good cocktails. Good wine. Good food. Good atmosphere. [and] Good service.”  The menu is influenced by the flavors of the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, and strives to blend “the old world with the new by using local ingredients in all of its dishes.”  But what makes Proof even cooler is that you can rent it for your own very special events!

WHAT SORTS OF EVENTS ARE BEST FOR THIS LOCATION?

Cocktail hours:  Treat your high-end clients, show some appreciation for your employees or celebrate a milestone, all while sampling some delicious cuisine and sipping on some specialty cocktails. 

Mid-day gatherings: Whether it be a fancy lunch, or a bridal/baby shower, this is the perfect spot to create a memorable afternoon event.

Special dinners:  Perfect spot to wine & dine clients, have an intimate rehearsal dinner or celebrate a something special with close friends.

Other smaller gatherings: Looking for a unique experience event that pampers your attendees? This is sure to impress.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THE SPACE ACCOMMODATE?

Seated dinner: up to 60 people

Cocktail party: 80-90 people

Open house style: 120 people

WHAT DOES THIS VENUE OFFER?

Location location location!  Experience the invigorating energy that surrounds downtown Des Moines from this centrally located spot. This area offers a plethora of activities to enjoy both before and after your event at Proof.  Stroll the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, visit the Science Center or enjoy some post event cocktails on Court Avenue!  There is something that is sure to please everyone. Build your event into a complete experience by taking full advantage of the fun things Des Moines has to offer.

Extraordinary hospitality & knowledgeable staff: Don’t know what you want to eat or drink? Allow the staff at Proof to assist with this task. This high-caliber group is sure to exceed your expectations and impress even your stuffiest event attendees. You can ensure a creative and stress-free experience by leaving the details up to these fine folks.

Versatile aesthetic with options for customizable décor: This blank canvas space has the versatility to transform into even the wackiest of themes.  Work with the Proof staff to bring in outside décor, or simply do it yourself. You are welcome to bring in live music as well, just coordinate A/V with the staff.

Flexibility on vendors:  Trying to appeal to a more casual crowd? Want to keep the food and drinks simple? You can pay a small room rental fee and coordinate outside food/drink options yourself on Sundays and Mondays only.

WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?

Tuesday-Thursday: $4,500 Food and beverage minimum (plus 6 percent sales tax and 18 percent gratuity). Required: 100 percent deposit required to secure booking.

Friday & Saturday: $5,500 Food and beverage minimum (plus 6 percent sales tax and 18 percent gratuity). Required: 100 percent deposit required to secure booking.

Sunday & Monday: $1,000 Food and beverage minimum (plus 6% sales tax & 18% gratuity). Required: $300 space rental fee required at booking

Just want to rent the space and coordinate the rest yourself?  You can book your event on Sunday or Monday.  Expect a minimum $500 space rental fee (note: this option does not include any food or wait service).

Cancellation Policy:

Notice over 14 days prior to event: full refund of deposit

Notice 7 to 14 days prior to event: 50 percent refund of deposit

Notice 7 days or less prior to event: no refund of deposit

TO SUM UP:

Proof as a venue is sure to make the right event very special. It's definitely a destination for your higher-end events where you want to pamper your attendees and show them some love. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will make you look cool without you even trying. I highly recommend keeping this location on your radar when planning your future events.

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

How to get people to attend your events

 

-Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC

Last post we talked about building effective strategy for your events to ensure you see a positive return on investment. This week we address a common fear: what if nobody shows up?

Getting people to attend your event is a part of your overall event strategy and contributes to how effective you are at seeing a positive ROI.  Here are 5 sure-fire ways you can ensure the people you want at your event are there.

  1. Create event attendee profiles:  Start back at the drawing board by truly shedding light on what types of people you want to attend your event. Compile a list of adjectives that describe your perfect attendee. Then allow these adjectives to manifest themselves into specific people. Don’t just throw paint at the wall by inviting everyone. Rather, be laser focused on creating a specific and concise list.  Brainstorm with your team to create a list of your top 100 people you would like to attend and then allow your list to spider web out from there. You should begin profiling your target list of attendees about the same time you begin brainstorming your event objectives to ensure your messaging aligns with the intended audience that will be receiving it.
  2. Send your target group compelling messaging: Now that you have compiled your top 100 list, determine what avenues make the most sense for you to reach them.  Develop captivating and unique marketing materials that you can send their way.  Find ways where you can connect with them personally to share about your event.  The key is to convince folks they MUST be at your event.
  3. Tap into existing networks: Form partnerships with like-minded, non-competing organizations that have an existing network of engaged individuals that you would love to have at your event. Together work out a strategic, mutually beneficial plan to reach those individuals and entice them to attend your event. Provide partners with email templates or copy that they can easily distribute to their networks, saving them oodles of time. 
  4. Send unique invitations: Whatever happened to snail mail? Send out an eye-catching and clever invite that sets your event apart from all other events. Always include a call to action and a teaser of what can be expected on event day.
  5. Create incentive: Promise your attendees that they will be getting something out of your event. Time is money and your attendees will want to know what value is to be gained by attending your event. Provide (3) concise bullet points on why your event is worth attending in your outreach marketing material. 
  6. Build event momentum: Talk about your event a lot and share all the exciting things that will be happening at it. Highlight your speakers, share content teasers, and advertise giveaways. Use your social media outlets to reach your audience. Take advantage of targeted ads to boost your post engagements and make updates frequently to ensure you are at the forefront of your audience's mind. Encourage your in-house staff and early bird attendees to share the event information on their social media, thus increasing your reach. Ask your speakers if they wouldn't mind writing a short blog post to provide a sneak-peak into what they will be sharing. Make it clear that this is the event that is NOT to be missed!

Now it goes without saying that if you go through all this trouble to make sure your attendees show up, you better deliver.  Be innovative, be creative and be original. 

As always, if you’re feeling lost, I am here to help!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.

A guide to planning successful events: Conclusion

  • I_love_apple_pie_poster-r58e13e86b35d47d580c0e3a54a206c96_w8u_8byvr_324

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Last time we talked about all the logistics that go into making our event great and now we are ready to see it come to life. (If you missed them, check out, parts 1, 2, and 3 of this guide.)

Phase 4: EVENT PRODUCTION: “I am ready to make my Apple Pie!” 

This is your time to shine; where all your hard work is brought to light! Your goal here is to deliver a flawless event from the eyes of the attendee. There will always be things that come up that you did not plan for during the event itself; that’s the nature of the beast. The best way to avoid the stresses that come along with these minor glitches is to delegate the event production work to a hired professional. They are experienced in this realm and know how to address the unexpected. Your event planner often can double as your producer or depending on the complexity of your program, you might decide to hire a more specific type of event producer. Whoever you choose, the choice to invest in this individual is worth its weight in gold. Your job is to celebrate the hard work you have done putting this event together by enjoying the event stress-free.  

If you decide you would rather keep the event production work in-house, choose an individual who is level-headed, resourceful and great under pressure. Establish this person as the boss of the event early on, so everyone knows whom to report to on event day matters. Always ensure this person is over-informed on all changes that are made. They should be the eyes and ears of the event at all times.

Phase 5: ROI MEASURMENT:  “How did everyone like my Apple Pie?” 

After the event concludes, this is your chance to analyze the strategy you developed during Phase 3.  Generally ROI is something that will be measured over the long-term, but there can be a lot of useful data generated before, during and after the event that will help you to gauge the overall reception.

Social media & Surveying: Take the conversations that have been created and analyze them to determine what your attendees responded to the most. This data will help you to create valuable follow-ups to your attendees and will inform you on what your customers are wanting to see more of. Use this data to organically focus the direction of your marketing strategy. 

Surveys can be somewhat archaic and the response can often be spotty, it is still advised that you take the time to distribute them. Any information you do receive back will be useful in gauging attendee reception.

Analytics: There are many tools that can be put into place that will provide you with detailed analytics on how your event was received. Employing these devices might make a lot of sense for some events but little sense for others.  It will be during Phase 3 of planning where you determine what will work for you event.

This concludes our four-part series on planning a successful event!  Please let me know if there are any burning questions that need to be addressed!  

Next time we talk about one of the biggest fears when it comes to event planning: The Fear that NO ONE WILL COME!  We will discuss different ways to ensure your event doesn't flop!

Until then reach out with any questions!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.

A guide to planning successful events: Part 3

 

 

 

Applepie recipe

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Phase 3:  CREATIVE LOGISTICS:  “What is the recipe I follow to make this Apple Pie? 

At this point, you have set some solid ground work during Phases 1 and 2:  You have your big innovative and creative ideas, you’ve developed your clear event objectives, you’ve assembled your team and assigned them their designated roles, you’ve set deadlines and you now have a working event program.  So now it is time to get into the nitty-gritty. 

Phase 3:  CREATIVE LOGISTICS:  “What is the recipe I follow to make this Apple Pie?”

  1. Nail down your venue & final date: Establishing this deadline will light a fire under you and hopefully fuel your excitement to power through this phase of planning.
  2. Engage Your Out-of-House Team: This will be all of the experts that you don’t currently have in-house (outside of your event planner, who should already be involved at this point).  These members might be:   an A/V production company, marketing & graphic design company, décor company, caterer and any other special groups that will assist you in executing other elements of your event. By engaging these vendors you will begin to understand the overall cost of your event.  Once you have a complete budget, you can always look at each line item and value engineer where you see fit. Treat your vendors like the experts they are and ask them how they can work within your budget but still achieve your objectives. Your vendors will perform best when they are given the freedom to own their own role. Remember you hired them for their expertise so avoid the temptation to micro-manage-it will only stress you out.
  3. Refine Your Event Program: Finalize your schedule. Be mindful to the flow and view the program from the eyes of the attendee. Avoid long expanses of content delivery where attendees are tied to their seats for hours. Incorporate frequent breaks so the blood can continue to flow. Think about how you can deliver messaging in varied ways so to avoid monotony and maintain attendee engagement. Any elements that you can incorporate into the event that are unexpected but add value are encouraged. Delivering your content by using a variety of tactics will increase the chances of your message being received and retained by your attendees. This will also avoid the chances of brain fatigue. Variety is the spice of life-so use it to make your event unique!
  4. Marketing Outreach Strategy & Momentum Building: Spend some time developing a strategy on how you are going to engage your attendees and begin to build momentum prior to the event.  Perhaps it is through a social media campaign or event specific app, but whatever it is, make sure it is purposeful.  The most successful events are the ones that everyone is talking about before it begins, exceeds their expectations once it arrives and holds their attention after it is gone.  This type of reception doesn’t happen by accident, it needs to be strategically planned and diligently executed. 
  5. Determine ROI Measurement Strategy: Your ROI strategy will be intimately tied to the efforts of your marketing strategy.  Leverage the power of social media and engage your attendees early.   For example, associating a hashtag with everything these days is common practice –so come up with something creative and work that hashtag.  Implement an intentional social media plan.  Pose questions, provide visual and interactive “shareable moments” and incentive your attendees to share.  This will increase your social media participation and thereby increase your event reach AKA- FREE marketing!  By vocalizing your hashtag early (prior to event) you can also start to build momentum for the event itself, getting attendees excited for what is to come.  Likewise, you can utilize the hashtag following the event to sustain the excitement and encourage attendee feedback.  Make sure you are encouraging pointed attendee participation throughout the event and asking specific questions about what your attendees are responding to.  Guide conversation but allow organic feedback to surface.  Be the facilitator of participation but don’t overly interfere.  Create a fine balance between encouraging the conversation while avoiding contrived and somewhat superficial dialogue.

    In addition to social media event specific apps can be employed to build a community around your event.  As the event organizer you can post updates and information to attendees prior to, during and following events.  These apps are also equipped with detailed analytics that can demonstrate how active attendees were and gauge overall reception.  If you want to get really detailed on seeing quantitative results on how your event was received, you might consider adding an Advertising Agency to your team of gurus to implement a more detailed strategy.
  6. Details & Logistics: The devil is in the details: Be thoughtful in everything!  Don’t ever let something be “good enough,” when it could be great.

Phase 3 can be a bit overwhelming, so creating a reliable and capable team to delegate tasks to is vital.  Next time we will watch our event come to life as we talk about Event Production and ways to review our event's success. 

As always please let me know your thoughts and if you need more clarification!

 

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.

 

A guide to planning successful events: Part 2

  • KE181Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Last time we began our discussion on the different phases of event planning.  In Phase 1, you developed your list of event objectives, now it is time to set up the infrastructure so we can put them into action.

Phase 1: CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT-- “I want to make an apple pie.”

In Phase 2 we embark on the journey of turning our conceptual ideas into solid action steps:

Phase 2: PROGRAMMING -- “What ingredients do I need to make this apple pie?

Develop a preliminary event program: Begin to wrap your mind around how this event actually looks by creating an event schedule from start to finish. This is a first draft, so allow yourself to be free here. Don’t get too wrapped up in getting it right. The purpose of this exercise is to take everything you have learned from Phase 1 and begin to apply it in a practical way.

This is where logistics are welcomed back into the conversation. Start to apply your out-of-the-box ideas in a realistic way without compromising on the innovation. If you find yourself getting too stiff, this is where you pull out all of your sketches from Phase 1 and bring back to life the creativity and excitement that you previously cultivated.

You should walk away from this exercise with a working event schedule, including different logistical elements (speakers, breakouts, breaks, meals, entertainment…etc) and their associated time frames. You should also have a good idea of potential event dates and venue choices.

Assign roles & responsibilities to your team members: Develop a list of clear expectations for each team member so each knows their allotted tasks. Assign tasks based on the strengths of each member and their ability to achieve the best results. For example, the stickler for the rules might make a good “objective enforcer” to make sure decisions are in alignment with event objectives; whereas the daydreamer might make a good event décor designer.

Create team categories to cover each area of the event. These team categories might differ from event to event (and will most likely have sub-categories within them) but some good starting categories might be:  Venue Logistics, A/V Design & Logistics, Marketing & Messaging, Technology & Innovation, Décor & Graphics…etc.  Essentially you must compile the list of ingredients you will need in order to make this event happen.

Create a meeting schedule, assign tasks & set deadlines: Assigning tasks and developing deadlines will ensure everyone is being held accountable to their roles and will limit the threat of oversights.  Rule of thumb:  for a smaller 2- to 3-hour event, starting the planning process  one to two months prior might be adequate time. For a larger half-day or full-day event with multiple speakers and break-out sessions, it makes sense to start planning at least three to four months prior.  Anything larger it is advised you allocate at least six to eight months of planning time to ensure the event is thoughtfully executed. 

With this infrastructure in place, you are now ready to proceed into Phase 3, the Creative Logistics Phase.  This is where we start to get into the nitty-gritty details.  As always, contact me for more information or clarification on the phases we just covered!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

A guide to planning successful events: Part 1

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

 

So you're tasked with planning your company’s annual event and don’t know where to begin? Before we get too far into the specific details that go into planning a successful event, let’s have a high-level discussion on how to approach the general task of event planning. The best approach is to simplify it and break it down into manageable pieces.  

In an effort not to overwhelm you, this will be a 4-part series detailing the steps to effectively plan an event. Let's think of it like making an apple pie.

Phase 1: CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT:  “I want to make an apple pie.”

This is the single most important phase of event planning. This is where creativity comes out and you create your road map for the planning ahead. 

First, you must assemble your event team then find a quiet space with a door and large white board and allow your uninhibited ideas to flow. This is not the time to stifle yourself with logistics but rather this is the time to innovate. The point of this meeting is to share ideas and build objectives. Get to the true point and narrow down the: who, what, and why. 

Your goal for this meeting is to walk away with three to five clear and concise event objectives as well as a slew of innovative and engaging ideas for how you will achieve those. I cannot stress enough, that this is NOT the time to be reasonable. Allow your brain to dream BIG. You should close this phase of planning with lots of sketches, buzz words and diagrams; (save these, you will need them in phase 2). I should also mention, if you are planning to engage an event planner (out-of-house), you will want to include them at this time so they are privy to your thought processes. They can also be incredible catalysts in helping to brainstorm innovative ideas.

The objectives you create during this phase will drive every decision you make when it comes to planning. Some high-level objectives might be: Creating wider brand awareness; Educating attendees on your company's core mission and values; Demonstrating leadership in the industry...etc. OR you might choose very specific goals like:  Increasing sales by 10 percent; Signing at least (50) new clients; Recruiting (10) new donors...etc. The more specific you are about your event objectives, the more pointed you can become when you create your messaging. 

Below is an example of how I approach this brainstorming phase. Because I come from a design background, this phase for me is often often made up of quick and messy sketches that show ideas in space. I am not creating a specific plan at this point, but rather I am conveying ideas in a generic box to help me understand the components I want to be a part of the event. The key is to make this process your own. I am visual, so sketches work for me. Others might work better with buzz-words or quotes.  Allow the creative you to come out!

A        B    C

NOTE TO THE PLANNER:  If ever you find yourself going down a path that is not in alignment with one of your objectives, it is time to stop and reevaluate which path is right. Building a successful event is a process, so you can allow yourself to reevaluate the objectives you have created if that is what makes sense; but know when it is time to ditch ideas that do not work within the context of the overall purpose of this event.

So that concludes Phase 1, simple right? All you have to do is brainstorm!  Next time we will move into Phase 2: PROGRAMMING: “What ingredients do I need to make this apple pie?" In this phase we turn our ideas into working logistics. We will discuss developing a preliminary event program, assigning roles and responsibilities to team members and assigning tasks and setting deadlines.

How do you begin your event planning now? Visit my blog to learn a little more about the components that make up effective event strategy! As always, feedback is always welcome and encouraged!

 

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.

LOCAL FEATURE: Road-tripping to Perry

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC.

Perrydrive
 

This week we are taking a road trip out to Perry to explore what the Hotel Pattee has to offer for potential event venue spaces.

ENJOY THE RIDE:

I know what you are thinking, “but it’s a 45 minute drive from Des Moines!” Although Perry might not be ideal for an afternoon corporate luncheon or a happy hour for a company located in Des Moines, venturing out to Perry for the right event can truly enrich the overall attendee experience.

WHAT SORT OF EVENTS ARE BEST FOR THIS LOCATION?

As an event organizer you have the unique opportunity to build complete experiences for your attendees. Taking a little drive out of the confines of the city and into the beauty of Mother Nature can be the perfect vehicle (no pun intended) to set the tone for your meeting to come.  That said, what events work best here?

  • Full day or multi-day company events for mid-sized groups: 

The largest space can accommodate approximately (250) people banquet style and probably twice that stadium style.  So these spaces are not intended for massively huge groups to meet together at one time. The spaces available are great for events that are meant to fully immerse attendees in longer event programs filled with lots of new & rich content. The spaces are varied and unique so are perfect for planners looking for out-of- the-ordinary venue space to introduce to their attendees.

  • Unique experience events

Whether you are entertaining an important group of clients; showing someone from out of town the beauty that Iowa has to offer; or simply want to show your employees some appreciation with a high end and thoughtful experience, The Hotel Pattee has all the ingredients to make a truly memorable event.

  • Retreats

The hotel (and town itself) possesses a real sense of calm. Those looking to delve into more introspective ventures should take a trip out to the hotel to envision their retreat here.

  • Weddings & Other Social Events

The Hotel offers very elegant spaces that make the perfect backdrop for any photograph whether it be for a wedding, fundraiser or appreciation event. The added benefit of having such varied space options is that there is the ability to plan a versatile event that can transition flawlessly from one space to the next. The hotel landscape allows you to have an elegant cocktail hour in one room while simultaneously hosting a rowdy dance party in the next.

WHAT DOES THE HOTEL PATTEE HAVE TO OFFER?

The renovated hotel (2014) has several meeting spaces that can accommodate a multitude of events as well as other amenities to keep your attendees busy including:

  • Over 4,000 square feet of meeting space
  • On-site A/V services
  • Full-service catering by Executive Chef Ben Ferguson (which is delicious, I can attest!)
  • On-site event planner 
  • On-site spa
  • Private bowling lanes
  • Stocked fitness center
  • Outdoor courtyard space

OTHER HOTEL DESIGN ELEMENTS: Hotel-pattee

The quaint Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design is paired with modern updates that keep the hotel historically relevant while still being user-friendly. My favorite room by far is the Willis Library, right off the main lobby, a perfect room for a glass of red wine and some good conversation.

Need to stay overnight?  One of the (40) individually decorated and themed rooms will transport guests to Mexico, Italy, Japan or will illustrate unique aspects of Iowa including the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) or the Amana Colonies, a historic German settlement in eastern Iowa.

  ADDED BENEFITS TO VISITING PERRY:

  • The residents are cordial and accommodating.                                                Visiting Perry is like being welcomed into a good friend’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s warm and welcoming and possesses a genuine sense of hospitality.  
  • Venue, food and beverage costs are more affordable than in Des Moines.         If you are looking to have a high-end experience but don't want to pay high end, venturing slightly out of Des Moines for your more intricate events might be just the ticket.                        

OTHER COMPLEMENTARY SPACES FOR RENT IN PERRY:

Need more space than the hotel can offer?Laposte

  • There are a number of city-owned spaces adjacent to the hotel that can accommodate smaller groups for different types of break-out sessions.
  • La Poste, a renovated post office that has become a beautiful “space to celebrate art, music, food and community.” The upstairs is a blank canvas displaying a rotating art show with pieces from world renowned artists that can be utilized for all sorts of different larger events. The cellar, is an intimate & cozy collection of spaces that can be rented for more intimate events.  Want to visit?  On Thursday nights they have live music and a speakeasy bar for your drink of choice.  Sneak on back to their Whiskey Room and get a little toasty by the fire.

TO SUM UP:

Perry is a wonderful destination, rich in history, hospitality and awesome event venues.  Jay Hartz (owner of Hotel Pattee) has a true passion for hotel ownership and possesses a truly unique and innovative eye for detail. His plans for continued improvements to the hotel are exciting and sure to make Hotel Pattee a true destination for anyone looking for a little retreat from their busy lives.

As always, please chime in and let me know what YOU would like to hear about!  I would like the content of this blog to be user-driven, so let me know what is on your mind!  Also follow me on Facebook for daily event insights!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

 

 

 

Planning a party? Introducing Amy Nebons

- Amy Nebons owns event management company Blink Events LLC. Amy Nebons

Hi, I’m Amy, an event planner in Des Moines and I am here to be your go-to resource for event planning tips, tricks, money-savers, venues, caterers, decorators…and so on.

A little about me:  I am an East Coast girl turned Midwest gal with a cultivated design eye and innate desire to create cool and compelling experiences for others. With a background in theater production and interior design, I possess a molecular make-up that is equal parts sensitive to general logistics and details and equal parts out-of-the box creativity and willingness to dream big. My blog will be structured to reflect that.

Maybe you're a professional event planner yourself, or are just in charge of pulling together and managing events at your company. Either way, this blog should provide you ideas and strategies for success.

You can expect me to rotate between four different categories. The goal is to provide meaningful and relevant content as well as variety to keep things interesting. Key topics will be:

Educate:  This category will either highlight a local event industry professional or business; highlight a new technology or trend; or simply highlight a successful event case study.

Create & Impact:  This category will demonstrate different ways an event can stand out to attendees -- highlighting different engagement tactics and uses of creativity and originality. This category will also demonstrate how event planners can positively impact their attendees to leave lasting impressions. 

What would I do?  This category will demonstrate real-life design problems in need of solutions and I will share what my approach would be to the problem.

Logistics:  This category will share money-saving ideas, tips and tricks and problem solves for unexpected things that might arise during an event. 

Finally, I want to hear from YOU!  What burning questions do you have about planning events? I would like this to be a resource for you. So please chime in with questions, problems, general inquiries or simply to say hi!  I love making new friends and would enjoy the chance to grab some coffee and learn about you!  Please contact me anytime, my email is always open! 

I look forward to sharing the exciting world of event planning with you!

Contact me by phone: 617-840-5073 or email at anebons@blinkevents.net. Find me on LinkedIn , Facebook or at my website www.blinkevents.net.  

This site is intended for informational and conversational purposes, not to provide specific legal, investment, or tax advice.  Articles and opinions posted here are those of the author(s). Links to and from other sites are for informational purposes and are not an endorsement by this site’s sponsor.